Muscles are made of thousands of fibers, that are kind of elastic in nature. When a muscle is exerted, it sustains tiny tears. The tiny fibers of the muscle are actually damaged;Then the body repairs those damages, and the muscle size is increased.
Repeat this process with consistency a few times a week, by lifting weights for example, and you’ll notice a difference in your muscle tone and strength within a few months.
The process must include 4 things: Consistency, Challenge, Long-term, and Rest.
While temporary stress repeated at intervals (ie lifting weights) contributes to the strength of the muscle, it is in the rest period that the muscle is actually built.
Can you imagine constantly lifting weights or flexing a muscle? With no break, no rest, the muscle would wear out and break down. Chronic stress does not build muscle.
(Check out https://www.instagram.com/trainwithjoan on Instagram, she is so inspiring!)
Where am I going with this lesson in Muscle Building?
Every learning process has the same pattern as building muscle and REQUIRES REST.
For example, Let’s say you are a Caregiver of someone with Parkinson’s Disease. The physical process might look like this:
CONSISTENCY – You show up day after day. You repeat the same actions: feed, clean, medicate, drive, encourage, explain, etc.
CHALLENGE – The symptoms, moods, abilities change on a regular basis. One day never looks exactly like another. The one thing you can always count on is to be challenged and learn how to problem-solve those challenges.
LONG-TERM – The average Caregiver’s role lasts 4 years. 24% of Caregivers provide care for more than 5 years.
REST – Remember, it is during the rest period that the strength is actually built. You cannot omit this step of the process and expect to build - or maintain - strength. This is one reason why Caregivers feel burned-out more often than strengthened. The opportunity for rest is often sacrificed when there are other needs.
But this process can help us to build emotional resilience as well. Having emotional resilience, also known as Emotional Responsibility will improve EVERY aspect of your life. Here’s what that would look like:
CONSISTENCY – On a daily basis during the daily grind, be aware of the way you talk to yourself and the emotions that follow. Journaling these observations is especially effective. Observe how much blame you place on your circumstances. How often do you wish things to be different than they are? If your thoughts are consistently negative, you need to know that there is a way to strengthen your brain’s ability to accept the negative without spiraling into hopelessness. Consistently owning your emotions, and not blaming them on what others say or do is a strong beginning to achieving emotional resilience.
CHALLENGE – Our brain resists change because it likes things that are familiar. So if we are in the habit of complaining about life and blaming ours or others' inadequacies, the challenge is going to be in redirecting our thoughts to something more empowering. This is completely possible with practice. And then more practice. You will try to believe, “I can do this” and your brain might tell you, “No you can’t”. And you’ll have so much evidence that you can’t. Find a mid-way thought to start with, like, “It’s possible that I can.” And redirect to that as often as you need to. Your brain might also tell you, "My husband shouldn't be that way." The challenge will be to accept him as he is and/or uphold boundaries that you've set for how you allow other's to treat you.
LONG-TERM – Your brain has been believing some of these negative thoughts since your childhood. It’s going to take time for your brain to let go of it. If you are wondering how long, stop. It doesn’t matter how long. Just know that it is possible. You ARE capable of believing new things. It’s been proven, so get started. And be kind to yourself in the process.
REST – Whatever that looks like to you; sleep, meditation, massage, watching TV. But mostly, rest from over-analyzing everything. Rest from self-doubt, rest from questioning if you’re doing it right. Rest from believing that beating yourself down will build you up. You can’t expect any living thing to grow that you continually cut down. Only building yourself up will actually build you up.
Connect with this process. Use it. Repeat and build strength. I’m cheering you on!